New Jersey: the fourteenth US state to legalize cannabis

Phil Murphy, Democratic governor of New Jersey, signed the legalization of recreational cannabis in his state on Monday.

The number of American states allowing the use of recreational cannabis continues to grow as the months go by.

In a press conference the governor gave his opinion on the issue:

"Our flawed and indefensible cannabis laws, which permanently tainted the criminal records of many residents and short-circuited their futures but also deeply wounded communities of color no longer exist today."

Three bills were then signed this Monday, February 22, 2021 by Phil Murphy:

-The first to remove certain criminal penalties related to cannabis possession. (up to 168g of cannabis).

The judgments related to the possession of a larger amount of cannabis have been lightened.

This would eliminate hundreds of arrests or criminal records related to this issue, but would also limit public spending in the millions of dollars for arrests and enforcement.

-The second bill would regulate the sale of cannabis to adults over the age of 21. The maximum purchase amount is 28g of cannabis. The law also specifies a belly tax on cannabis purchases. 70% of the funds collected will then be donated to low-income communities.

-Finally, the third bill sets out a series of warnings for minors in possession of cannabis. It states that each youth caught more than three times for illegal possession of cannabis will be assigned to community service. This bill also protects young people from police abuse. For example, a national security officer is not allowed to search a minor on suspicion of smelling cannabis.

Despite the legalization of recreational cannabis use, the state of New Jersey does not currently provide for legalization of self-cultivation, even for those who are ill.